Depression, the Black Dog and Me by Kerry Spence

The period between August 2016 and February 2017 was one of the worst periods of my life. It just seemed to be one thing after another, including the loss of my two beautiful rescue dogs to tumors within a week of each other. I had ‘my boys’, Max and Charlie- featured in the picture above, since they were 8 weeks old. When I said goodbye, they were fourteen.
As I had previously suffered from depression I recognized the warning signs, and mixed with grief, I felt that life was threatening to overwhelm me. I retreated into my own darkness, my ‘island of isolation’. I knew I needed help if I was to remain functioning at work and at home.

Around this time my husband sent me an online article about Dundalk Dog Rescue and their plans for the future. As we were both desperately missing Max and Charlie we asked if we could get involved. We were invited to become dog walkers at the kennels on a Saturday morning. We both jumped at the chance, something to help motivate me out of bed and into the fresh air – just what the doctor ordered! Each week I went I fell in love with a new dog, even though we had both agreed that we needed time. I was struggling to keep the energy needed to get through the week at work and I had also received word that my granny’s cancer was spreading aggressively and we weren’t sure if she would see Christmas. We just didn’t have time for a dog of our own. Luckily, every dog I fell in love with had been booked for its forever home.

That is, until we met Hollie. As the metaphor of “the Black Dog” has been used for centuries to describe depression it was somewhat ironic that in the depths of depression I agreed to become a foster mummy for a black dog. “Just for a couple of weeks”, I said. As my granny’s condition worsened and I became more and more stressed about granny, work, friends, family and Christmas the only thing I wanted to do each and every evening was come home and cuddle with Hollie. If I arrived home first, my husband would often find me lying on the floor with Hollie snuggled in tight to me. Sometimes asleep, sometimes crying, sometimes just cuddling.
Hollie made me feel relaxed, she made me focus on the present – her soft fur, the rhythm of her breathing, the thud of her wagging tail, the cold of her nose. We quickly got into the routine of living with a dog again. Daily walks meant more exercise and I knew that no matter what the day had held for me she would be ready, waiting to support me – no questions, no talking, just unconditional love. There was no way I was giving her up. Several months later, I am proud to say that I feeling much better and I am a ‘failed foster mummy’ to two beautiful black rescue dogs. Hollie was my constant support and the best medicine I could have had through one of the worst periods of my life, the least I could do was give her a second chance at hers.

If you are interested in giving a rescue dog a second chance at life please email  rehoming@dundalkdogrescue.ie

or make a donation to ‘Help Us Help Them’